The kids and I have put together a list for the Easter holidays of things we need to do (homework, school reading books, sort through their toys etc), things we want to do (make Easter nest cakes, family film night) and places we want to visit (the beach, the cinema and somewhere they can go on their scooters among others).
After a morning of running errands (because not every minute of the holidays can be fun), we decided we’d make the most of the gorgeous afternoon sunshine and head out on their scooters. Usually, we go to Cardiff Bay Barrage or Pontcanna Fields – but with it being the school holidays and the sun shining, we thought we’d head somewhere that would hopefully be a bit quieter.
We’ve driven past the signposts for Sirhowy Country Park a few times, but until yesterday had never visited. Naturally, I Googled it to see what I could find out but couldn’t get much of a sense of the place from the websites, other than there are flat paths for cycling, so we figured that meant it’d be good for scooters too and decided to check it out ourselves.
Around 25 minutes from Cardiff, located near Crosskeys between Caerphilly and Newport, it’s easy to find from Junction 28 of the M4 (we used the postcode NP11 7PX). Well, easy unless you have zero sense of direction like me, totally miss the junction and end up having to make a rather long-winded detour. Thank goodness for sat-nav!
We arrived at around 2pm, and the car park was nicely quiet. It costs £1 to park for two hours and £3 to park all day – there’s a small car park at the entrance, but carry on a mile or so down the track for one that takes you closer to the pathways.
We headed off along the Ynys Hywel track, a wide, concrete tree-lined path that used to be a railway line and which is perfect for bikes and scooters.
It gives beautiful views over the valley and river below and the sun shining through the trees was quite stunning.
The main path is great for buggies and wheelchairs and not at all muddy when we visited – although one downside was that we didn’t see any toilets anywhere! There were also no bins and as the place is popular with dog walkers, we saw a few poop bags left behind, which isn’t really what you want to see in such a beautiful place.
We did, however, spot plenty of birds, some sheep on the hills above the path, and lots of little waterfalls running down the edge of the hillside. It hasn’t rained for a few days so I can imagine these would be even more beautiful in the typical wet Welsh weather.
As we had two scooters and a buggy (Toddler refused point blank to go on his scooter), we stuck to this main path – but if we’d been without wheels we could have headed down closer to the river and into the woodland to explore even more.
We stuck to the one path, scooting and exploring for more than an hour, before turning back on ourselves and returning to the car park. It shuts at 5pm; if we’d had more time we could have diverted to Ynys Hywel Farm (which is mostly visited by school and youth groups) or Penllwyn Tramroad Bridge and the Babell Chapel.
The park is part of the Valleys Cycle Network, and we did see a lot of older children on their bikes, as well as ‘proper’ cyclists. With the flat paths, no traffic and striking views, it’s easy to see the appeal of such a place.
Sirhowy doesn’t have quite as much to offer as other country parks such as Porthkerry, Cosmeston or Bryngarw, but if you’re looking for a safe and beautiful place for children to scoot, skate or cycle, then it’s perfect.
You can also download a collector trail booklet online, and find the 10 wooden posts along the route, telling you more about some of the wildlife in the area. More serious walkers may like some of these routes.
Sirhowy Country Valley Park, Cwmfelinfach, Newport NP11 7PX